Tech4Girls: inspiring girls to develop an interest in technology throughout the continent

As part of the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women and EQUALS, GSMA North America and GSMA Latin America joined forces to host a Tech4Girls workshop for girls from different communities in New York. Supporting partners included The Trust for the Americas – OAS, Kano Computing, BT, NYC Department of Youth & Community Development, ITU and Engineering for Change.

Tech4Girls aims to boost girls’ confidence in their science, technology, engineering, art and design and mathematics (STEAM) skills by developing tech and computing products. The activity consisted of a theoretical-practical workshop in which 20 girls aged 10 to 14 assembled their own computer and learned how to code using a Kano Computer Kit. The girls were able to take home their devices thanks to a generous donation by Kano Computing.
BT Americas hosted the event at their North America headquarters; offering girls a unique experience in office settings is a key aspect of the program. Ana Tavares, Head of North America, GSMA, gave the inaugural speech. Women leaders of the supporting entities offered inspirational talks and Carlos Bosch, Senior Technology Director, GSMA North America, officiated as instructor.

“We are very committed to this effort as women only hold less than 20 percent of all roles across the technology sector,” said Tavares.

According to the American Association of University Women, the percentage of women graduating in computer science has dropped considerably. In 1984 women represented 37 per cent of computer science graduates, compared to only 18 per cent in 2017. The GSMA Tech4Girls programme aims to reverse this trend and reduce the digital gender gap in the tech industry, generating benefits for women, societies and economies. One challenge is girls’ limited interest in pursuing tech studies due to a lack of mentors to encourage them and the misconception that this sector is “only for men”. This highlights the need to interest girls in technology at secondary school, or even earlier.

“Reducing the digital gender gap in the ICT sector not only helps to improve women’s lives by giving them economic and professional development opportunities; it’s also good for the industry, because it broadens the talent base and adds diversity to planning and decisions. At the GSMA we’re deeply committed to this objective and we know we can achieve it only by working with all the key players, both public and private,” said Paula Ferrari, Regional Marketing Director, GSMA Latin America.

In October 2018, The Trust for the Americas selected GSMA Tech4Girls as a winner of the 2018 Corporate Citizen of the Americas Award in the category ‘Technical Skills for the Future of Work’. The distinction gave rise to partnership between both organizations to deploy the workshops across the region.

“To tackle the digital divide between men and women, we need to encourage women to take up technology and develop skills for their empowerment and wellbeing. As part of our mission to promote the socioeconomic inclusion of vulnerable populations, in the next five years The Trust for the Americas will implement an approach based on the future of work,” said María Liliana Mor, Director of Programmes at The Trust for the Americas.